Darlington manager Steve Staunton has no intention of quitting, and remains determined to turn around the club’s fortunes.
The chances of avoiding relegation are receding by the week, with Quakers now 16 points from safety with 16 games to play.
Tuesday’s home match with Port Vale, when Darlington took an early lead before conceding three second half goals, was the 14th defeat in 19 league games since Staunton was appointed in October.
Yet the manager remains committed to The Northern Echo Arena and has revealed he has been in discussions with chairman Raj Singh about plans for next season.
“That second half left me sick, but I’m more determined than ever,” declared Staunton, who, including loans, has signed 22 players.
“I’m not a quitter. I said to the chairman that I’ll keep going until either he pulls the plug or we have turned it around. And we will turn it around – I’ve no doubt about that.
“I had a good chat with the chairman on Monday and we are looking to next season. We are looking to secure players to the club that we want to stay, so that no matter what happens, we are going to have a nucleus of a squad so that we are not playing catch-up come next January as we were this season. We have built a team quickly and we are trying to force things on them quickly. Improvement is happening, everybody can see that there has been progress, so we just have to keep going.
“Having a pre-season with a group of players makes a massive difference and we’ve had a lot of comings and goings this season. Pre-season is when you do the majority of your work.
“It’s very difficult when you’ve got a lot of games, but the lads have taken everything on board very quickly and I’ve got to give them credit for that. But as much as giving them praise, they’ve got to take the off bit of criticism as well.”
Staunton’s 22nd signing was Scottish midfielder Ross Chisholm who became the 50th player used by Quakers this season when he came off the bench on Tuesday.
His cross led to Tadgh Purcell having a header cleared off the line, and Staunton added: “Ross gets into pockets of space in and around the front men.
“He chipped a lovely ball over to Purcell and he did everything right, he headed it back across the keeper but their defender did brilliantly to get back on to the goalline.”
Chisholm has taken the number 25 squad number vacated by reserve keeper Ashlee Jones, who has been released.
■ Former Darlington striker Lee Thorpe has joined Blue Square North leaders Fleetwood.
The 34-year-old was released by Quakers last weekend at the same time as Steve Foster, who has joined Blyth Spartans, in the same division as Thorpe’s new club, and the defender made his debut in Tuesday’s 3-1 defeat at Workington.
Foster and Thorpe could come face to face next month when their new clubs play each other.